Thursday, September 13, 2007

Yankees vs Red Sox

It's the end of the fourth season of Rescue Me and like the elevator that Tommy and Lou got trapped on momentarily, it had it's ups and downs but really didn't seem to get anywhere. Another apt metaphor for the season would be the game of baseball. Here they used the cliché of "baseball is like life" to set up a joke, but it really encapsulates the season as well. Long bits of boredom that lull you to sleep until the crack of the bat (or a fire engine siren) wakes you up. And since baseball is being brought up here (and with the Yankees taking on the Red Sox this weekend) creator Denis Leary has to show his stripes (or lack thereof,) making sure you know he's a Boston man.

Last night, the Boston referencing began innocently enough, with the use of Lemonheads' "(My Drug) Buddy" to back Tommy's (still) internal battle with alcohol. It worked well with the flashback montage of Tommy's losses - cousin Jimmy on 9/11, carrying his dying son Connor, his brother's funeral. In the song Evan Dando and Juliana Hatfield sing "I'm too much with myself, I wanna be someone else," which speaks to the yearning that Tommy has for a drink (and maybe why he likes to dress up as his dead cousin while fighting fires off-duty?) At this point, using a Boston band in the soundtrack is only Leary blowing a kiss to Beantown, which he likes to do often in the series. Whether it be cameos from Boston area sports figures like Boston Bruin greats Phil Esposito and Cam Neely and Patriots head coach Bill Belichick, or the occasional song (The Del Fuegos,) Leary and co. have always kept it outside the plot.

Later on, though, while Tommy and his father (played by the always amazing Charles Durning) take in a minor league baseball game, they invoke The Green Monster, Carl Yastrzemski ("Yaz," for whom the episode is named,) and even quietly celebrate the 40th anniversary of the BoSox's Impossible Dream season of 1967 by singing a few bars of "The man they call Yaz" (mp3 download.). After that touching moment of song, "Good Times Roll" by Boston's own The Cars plays out the episode, backing a montage that sees many characters starting and ending plotlines, the most touching of which was the death of Tommy's father (while quietly watching the game.)

Getting back to baseball, early in the season, Yankees great Mickey Mantle was referenced in a biography playing in the background at a bar. 'The Mick' and 'Yaz' are two similar, but contrasting references for the series. Both had the pressure of replacing true baseball legends - Mantle took over for Joe Dimaggio in 1952, and Yastrzemski replaced Ted Williams in 1961. Mantle is the last player to win the Major League triple crown (1956,) and Yaz was the last to win the American League triple crown (1967.) Besides being rivals, the major difference between the two was health and alcohol. Yaz said once about Mantle "If that guy were healthy, he'd hit eighty home runs," and Yaz would know, because he was as healthy as they got, playing mostly injury free for 23 seasons. Mantle's battles and eventual death by the bottle (at age 63) are why he's a reference point for Tommy, with his addiction battles. Putting his Boston allegiance aside for second, the fact that Leary brings up a healthy living Yaz is surely meant as contrast to Mantle's troubles with alcohol, and the hope that Tommy's looking to turn the corner next season.

Speaking of next season, there's still no renewal notice so one has to wonder if that might've been the series finale. My guess is they'll wait to make an announcement either way until after the Emmys (Leary's nominated for best actor.) Meanwhile Leary's already talking about stories already written for next season, which it seems like he started thinking about midway through this one. The first half of the season was spent cleaning up the mess from the end of last season, and then it quickly moved on to setting up plot for next season, and Chief Riley's suicide midway, is indicative of this. The only purpose this seemed to hold is to end a sloppy storyline from last season and to bring in someone of authority (Chief Feinberg) to force Tommy to seek psychiatric help next season (he 'section 8's Tommy in the finale.)

To return to an earlier metaphor, if this season is an elevator and the seasons are floors, it seems we got on at the 3rd floor and rode it all the way to the 5th with only a brief stop to see that the 4th floor was under construction. A lot of people got off there and left via the emergency exits, but I can't help but stay on for the 5th floor. I found so much on those first three floors, it's hard to believe that's all there is.

Songs for Rescue Me Episode 413:
1 - "(My Drug) Buddy" - The Lemonheads - Tommy's daydream montage
2 - "The man they call Yaz" (mp3 download)
3 - "Good Times Roll" - The Cars - Closing montage/credits

Previously: Ghosts of 9/11 (Ep 412)

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1 comment:

J Shifty said...

It looks like the Red Sox decided to pay homage to the rocky, uncertain end to the Rescue Me season in their own way this weekend!

Ah, September in New England...

Thanks for the song about Yaz, anyway :)